Voters in the Saline Area Schools district will elect three trustees to the Board of Education in the Nov. 8 election.
Scott Hummel is the only candidate seeking the two-year term on the board. Michael McVey and incumbents Dennis Valenti and Alan Brilliant are running for two six-year seats on the board.
In this article we feature Scott Hummel
Why are you running for election?
I believe in being part of the process and doing all I can do to help the students of our community. I can't think of a better way to be involved than to be part of the school board. I think this is an amazing opportunity to serve our community and help shape the future of our school district. Being a parent and educator, I have a keen interest in how our schools function and ensuring success over the long-term for all students. I believe that I can help ensure that success for all students and continue the excellence of the Saline Area Schools.
Why should Saline voters elect you?
Saline voters should elect me because I have a unique skill set for this position. Being a teacher, I understand the processes related to that aspect but I also have my administration credentials and have served on our union executive board. This has provided me the opportunity to negotiate contracts and see how "both sides" operate. I feel that my background and professional experiences make me a great fit. Aside from my professional background, I am very active in the community and help in any way I can. This includes coaching and volunteering. It is important to me to give back to the community and this is another way I can do that. I feel that anyone who knows me and knows how active I am would agree that I am very engaged in our community and would be the same way on our school board.
Describe your approach to solving problems and making decisions as a leader in a group setting?
In my opinion, the keys to solving problems and making decisions in a group are: teamwork, collaboration and communication. Often times, communication and collaboration can eliminate many problems. We need ensure that all stakeholders feel valued and understand that their voice matters. With this approach, everyone feels ownership and allows us to function as a team. While we may not always be in unison, understanding everyone's opinion (and valuing those opinions) creates an atmosphere that allows for growth. It is this atmosphere that helps solve problems and make those tough decisions together.
With the bond issue passed, new flexibility with Sinking Fund money and more revenue from the Special Ed millage, Saline Area Schools finds itself in a fairly strong financial position. How should additional revenue be used?
This is impossible to answer at this point. Spending extra resources is something that requires planning and research. Just because we may have extra money this year, doesn't necessarily mean we will have money next year. The school funding structure is dependent on enrollment and other factors. It is critical that we spend our money wisely and in the spirit it was intended. With so many options for our money, we need to talk as a board and figure out the best ways to use the resources we are so lucky to have. This is a situation that many districts will never have, so we need to understand that and spend accordingly. I believe we should listen to all ideas and come to a decision of "common good" for our students and community.
What’s your view on online learning in the district and how it should be employed?
I believe that online learning is only going to grow and we need to be part of this growth. Being a classroom teacher, I never want to see students moving away from the classroom but we need to be realistic as well and understand that we need to offer as many options as possible to ensure that every student has a learning program best suited to their specific needs. There are multiple ways to incorporate online learning, but I would be in favor of providing this along with classroom instruction to create a "blended-learning" program.
Should the district move to a new calendar (year-round school, for example)?
I think some type of year-round calendar could provide benefits to our students. With common calendars, we are bound by what has been agreed to with Washtenaw County for now, but I feel that this issue is definitely worth looking into for the future. As an educator I understand that students lose a lot of what they learned over a 10-11 week summer break. A "year-round" calendar could help eliminate those losses and still provide a lengthy summer break as well as smaller breaks throughout the year. I truly believe that once a district decides to make this change and show positive results, it will be the norm not the exception. There are numerous factors that would need to be discussed including, but not limited to: child care on the off weeks throughout the year (options), cost, union agreement and employee satisfaction, and others. I am a proponent of this idea and would definitely be interested in doing more investigation into this issue in the future.
Are you in favor of creating more Next Gen Classrooms? If so, how should the district demonstrate they are worth the investment? If not, why not?
Having twin 3rd graders (at Harvest) I am always looking at the future and ways we can provide our students with the best possible education for years to come. I believe that the Next Gen classrooms are the new standard in education, but they must be paired with "old-school" techniques as well. Our students need to understand the latest technology and be able to use the technology that is available, in order to keep up with their peers in other areas of the world. With that said, I also believe that we need to encourage our teachers to make the classes as social as possible throughout this entire process. I see many students that are excellent on technology but lack the social skills necessary to fully function in society. It is a difficult balance, but our teachers are amazing and I have no doubt can walk this "fine line".
The funding for our technology has been provided by the residents of the Saline Area Schools community, so we need to use those resources wisely and provide the highest level of technology for our students.
Given the disparities in how the state funds school districts, how can Saline compete with other top school districts to attract and retain talented young teachers?
I believe this year is the perfect example of what Saline can do (does) to attract the best talent in education. Saline hired a large number of new staff this year, all of which are highly-qualified and many that have been in other districts across the state and country. Educators want to work in districts that are safe, provide resources and training, have great kids, have competitive salaries and benefits, have fair and equitable administration and school boards and for many, the opportunity to grow as educators. Saline offers all of these and more. We need to continue our excellence both in and out of the classrooms and we will continue to attract the top teachers. Being fiscally conservative to ensure our financial future, maintaining our high standards for students and staff, and promoting successes will ensure that we will attract the best and brightest for years to come.